One of the most successful uses of biotechnology is in agriculture. Though this term is used widely, since agriculture can include a diverse number of things, including the cultivation of crops not only for food but also for naturally occurring materials such as wool, cotton and other plant based derivatives. Agriculture also includes animals which are used for both food and materials such as wool. Though when the technology is used in animals, it is often called selective breeding. GM crops is the term that is normally used in reference to food production.
A very rudimentary description of what biotechnology does in the cultivation of agriculture is altering the DNA of the plant or animal so that it is altered in such as way that is beneficial to production. It can, of course, be changed in a variety of ways. Very often it is about producing more of the substance but this is not always the case. Sometimes it is about improving the quality of the end product. For example, it may be used in plant cultivation if it is found that by altering a gene you can improve the taste of texture of the food substance.
It is useful to look at some statistics to understand just how vital the role of the technology is in agriculture. In 2011 some 10% of all crops were genetically modified, which means using biotechnology in some way. There is currently no long-term evidence that eating GM crops poses any greater risk than normal food, as they are put through a stringent testing process before they are available on the market. Though different countries have very different laws when it comes to the sale of GM crops indicating that there is some concern, even if this does not originate from the scientific community.